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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Ighalo on the move; Grillitsch to Tottenham

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Odion Ighalo has told Sky Sports that he wants to return to the Premier League.

The Nigerian international spent two-and-a-half seasons at Watford (two in the PL) from 2014-17 as he scored 16 goals and added four assists in 50 PL starts. He’s spent the past 12 months playing in the Chinese Super League for Changchun Yatai, scoring 36 goals in 55 games but, per the report, Ighalo is flying to the UK this week and wants to hold talks about his future.

A transfer fee of $25 million (what Changchun Yatai paid Watford for Ighalo in January 2017) has been suggested if Ighalo is to be sold, but which PL clubs will be interested in his services?

At a quick glance a few stick out: Southampton, Everton, Leicester and Crystal Palace would all seem like decent spots for him to land as they need added firepower and a target man. Everton have struggled in that area and have the cash the pay Ighalo, while Everton may have to get sell the likes of Shinji Okazaki and Kelechi Iheanacho to bring Ighalo in. Southampton have sold Manolo Gabbiadini, so a spot has opened up but does his style of play suit Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s high-pressing philosophy? Probably not.

Crystal Palace would be a good fit for Ighalo but whether or not they have this kind of cash is another matter. With Christian Benteke about to return from injury, Roy Hodgson may give him a run in the team, while Jordan Ayew has found some decent form in recent weeks in a central role.

Ighalo, 29, could want a move back to the PL as much as he likes, but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be many clubs who could take 1) afford his wages, and 2) have a spot for him to be a regular.


Another report from Sky Sports claims that Tottenham want to sign Austrian midfielder Florian Grillitsch, 23, from Hoffenheim.

The report claims that Grillitsch has a release clause in his contract for $24 million and with Mousa Dembele close to sealing a move to Chinese Super League side Beijing Sinobo Guoan, it appears Spurs have found their replacement.

A penny for your thoughts, Harry Winks, Victor Wanyama and Olivier Skipp…

This move seems very much like a Tottenham transfer. A young player who has UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga experience who is ready to make the step to a team competing in the top four of the Premier League each season and is hungry to improve under Mauricio Pochettino.

Grillitsch is a tall defensive midfielder who is comfortable on the ball, and likes to break up the play, so it seems like he would be a direct replacement for Dembele. This potential move says an awful lot about Winks’ future at Tottenham, while Wanyama has been hit by injuries but it appears he could be heading out of the door this summer. Either way, Spurs need extra depth as it is so if Dembele does leave then at least giving Pochettino the cash to bring in a replacement for a few million more is the least Daniel Levy can do.

Right?

Watford cash in on Ighalo, who’s also off to China

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It’s. Transfer. Deadline. Day. (Finally.)

Following the conclusion of seven Premier League fixtures (at roughly 5 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, be sure to tune in to the live transfer roundup show, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

A professional athlete’s career is short, thus every last one of them should be a card-carrying member of #TeamGetMoneyWhileYouStillCan.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundupSunday | Saturday | Friday ]

Odion Ighalo, who last season bagged 15 goals in helping Watford to a 13th-place finish in their first season back in the Premier League, got his (reportedly $250,000 per week) on Tuesday, as the 27-year-old Nigerian striker signed for Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai in a deal that nets the Hornets a cool $25-million transfer fee. Win-win.

[ DONE DEALS: All the deadline-day deals done so far ]

Ighalo’s second season in the PL has been a massive disappointment, it should be said, as he’s scored just one goal in 18 appearances (14 starts) this season. Troy Deeney and Etienne Capoue lead the way (five goals each) for a side that currently sits 14th in the PL table, eight points clear of relegation, four points off ninth place, with one of the five worst goal differentials in the league.

Transfer rumor roundup: Rooney, Ighalo targeted by CSL, Foxes chase Ramirez

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With the transfer window rapidly coming to a close, Premier League sides from top to bottom remain active in January.

[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]

— The Chinese Super League continues its attempt to poach the world’s biggest stars despite uncertainty over the league’s future spending habits.

Wayne Rooney has been offered over $1 million on a weekly basis to join the CSL, with several of the leagues sides reportedly interested in the veteran Manchester United attacker, according to the Sun.

The 31-year-old recently became United’s all-time leading goalscorer after surpassing 250 goals with the club.

— Meanwhile, Odion Ighalo is also being eyed by China with a reported offer of $28 million on the table for the Watford striker.

After netting 17 goals last season for the Hornets, Ighalo has found the back of the net just twice in the PL over the last 12 months.

— Leicester is reportedly willing to increase its offer to Middlesbrough in order to lure attacker Gaston Ramirez to the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes saw their most recent bid rejected by the Boro, however, Ramirez has reportedly handed in a transfer request that would help aid his wishes to move on from the club.

Claudio Ranieri‘s side has also been forced to fend off CSL side Tianjin from poaching striker Islam Slimani, who is reportedly a heavy target from the east.

— The Red Devils have sold Sean Goss to Championship side Queens Park Rangers after the midfielder failed to make a first-team appearance for United since joining the club in 2012.

— Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday continue to the race to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes, who was left out of his side’s matchday squad on Saturday in the FA Cup.

The 26-year-old has made just six appearances this season for the Boro after having scored on six occasions a season ago when the team made the jump to the PL.

Manchester City 2-0 Watford: Zabaleta, Silva lead City back to win column

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  • Zabaleta nets first PL goal since ’14
  • Silva ices it in 86′
  • City first clean sheet since Oct. 29

Manchester City got back in the win column, giving Pep Guardiola a boost with a 2-0 win over Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

The win keeps City a point back of second- and third-place Arsenal and Liverpool, seven back of leaders Chelsea.

David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta scored for Man City, with Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling earning assists.

Watford slips to 11th, level on 21 points with Southampton (9th) and Bournemouth (10th).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

City controlled the first half despite a very tight and disciplined performance from Watford at the back.

It would take something special, and that was a smart run down the right side by Zabaleta. The Argentine back met Kevin De Bruyne’s loop of a cross to make it 1-0.

Watford had a chance at the end of the half through Odion Ighalo, but the striker frittered it away.

City looked set to improve on this disappointing stat:

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

And yet City couldn’t put away the Hornets, and Nordin Amrabat gave Ighalo a chance to equalize only to see the striker thump it over the goal.

But Silva and Raheem Sterling worked a 1-2 down the left of Watford’s final third, and it was all set at the Etihad.

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Watford 3-1 Manchester United: Super-Sub Zuniga downs poor United

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Manchester United continues to struggle putting the parts together as a whole, and they were downed by a true team effort.

Marcus Rashford appeared to have rescued a point for the visitors, but Juan Zuniga scored 50 seconds after coming on in the 83rd minute, and Watford earned a dramatic and deserved victory at Vicarage Road.

Watford took the game to Manchester United throughout the first 45 minutes. The home fans shouted for a penalty in the early going as they took a long throw into the box as Marouane Fellaini found himself with a fistful of Troy Deeney‘s shirt, but no call was made. Moments later, they had a big chance of the early going as a free-kick from Jose Holebas found Sebastian Proedl at the far post who headed across the face to an unmarked Deeney but it was just out of his reach.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With the home side still roaring forward, Odion Igahlo had a glaring miss, failing to capitalize on a rare miss by David De Gea. The Manchester United goalkeeper came out to claim a long-ball for no one in particular, but miscommunication saw him barrel into Chris Smalling and they both spilled to the turf while the ball bounded free. Igahlo had a wide-open net, but his hit on the volley sailed harmlessly over the net. Yet another Watford chance before 20 minutes required De Gea to make a spectacular save as a header from Deeney tested the Spaniard.

Finally the visitors had a chance as a deflected cross came to Zlatan Ibrahimovic streaking at the far post but he struck the side-netting with a powerful shot. Paul Pogba nearly stunned the Vicarage Road crowd past the half-hour mark with an absolute thunderbolt from a good 25 yards out that smashed the crossbar so powerfully that it rebounded back out above the box.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Finally, for all their earlier chances, Watford bagged a deserved opener. Anthony Martial was dispossessed deep on the right flank, and Darryl Janmaat found Etienne Capoue unmarked near the penalty spot to smash home the opener, his fourth goal of the season alrady. The moment was not without controversy, as Miguel Britos won the ball off Martial but also cleaned him out in the process, and referee Michael Oliver let it go. United was forced to substitute Martial off after the goal, clearly foggy from an earlier clash of heads.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The second half was cagey past the hour mark until Manchester United took their moment to equalize. Ibrahimovic burst down the left on the break and lofted in the ball to Rashford in front of net. His first headed effort was weak and stopped by the wall of defenders, but the rebound fell to his feet and he recovered to poke home from point-blank range.

Watford appeared to be tiring, and United nearly won all three points with 11 minutes left. A beautiful ball in from Fellaini met the head of Ibrahimovic, who powered a header on net only kept out by a full-stretch save by Heurelho Gomez. Manager Walter Mazzarri brought on Zuniga for Capoue, and he became an instant hero when he buried Roberto Pereyra‘s cutback, producing a winner not unlike the opener.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Manchester United could do nothing but get in their own way, and their urgency only served to win Watford a penalty deep into stoppage time. Troy Deeney thumped the penalty home, sealing the win.

United brought on Memphis Depay in desperation after falling behind, but it did no good. United’s loss leaves them a full six points behind leaders Manchester City, a significant gap so early in the season. Watford, meanwhile, earn their second win of the season to push them into the top half of the table, and they send Jose Mourinho to his third straight defeat in one season, something that hasn’t happened in 14 years.